Russia - Interwetten Racing - Finish
Franz Wittmann and co-driver Bernhard Ettel more than reached their goal at Rally Russia, their fourth Intercontinental Rally Challenge run: not only did they finish as the best non-S2000-spec car with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX,
but they also once more scored points.
The Interwetten Racing duo finished the Russian event in sixth place, but the stewards added a time penalty to the Abarth team's Anton Alen after the fact: he had only been awarded a five-minute penalty following his retirement on Friday instead of ten minutes.
The final results were therefore adjusted accordingly and Franz Wittmann moved up to fifth overall in Russia, his best IRC career result. In the intermediate drivers' standings the Austrian currently lies in tenth place with seven points after four participations with a non-S2000 machine.
Sunday's final leg of the Vyborg-based rally - situated approximately 150 kilometres west of St. Petersburg - encompassed five special stages with a length of slightly over 55 kilometres. What made this so difficult was the fact that these stages had to be completed one after the other without the opportunity for service.
"Therefore it was all the more important not to risk too much – that is why we almost 'carried' the car across the finishing line," he reported.
"We managed to evade the many bedrocks that poke out of the gravel time and again and thus spared ourselves a possible tyre damage. For safety reasons, we had two spare tyres on board but luckily didn't need them."
"To complete five stages on pure gravel in a row takes a lot of nerve, but thankfully everything went smoothly on the final day as well," explained an obviously satisfied Wittmann.
"We can draw a positive balance of the rally of which we can be proud," he continued. "Foremost, I'd like to thank my co-driver Bernhard who didn't make one single mistake during this fast rally and thereby highly contributed to our success. My further thanks go to the team of Stohl-Racing who provided me with a perfect and very stable car. We didn't have the slightest problems despite the high demands of the rally."
"To me, it was important to learn and get to know the courses in order to raise my chances for next year with improved pace notes," concluded the Interwetten Racing driver.